Imran yesterday called on the government to do more to tackle the widespread national problem of new teacher recruitment that is holding back education in Bradford.
Figures released on Wednesday by the National Audit Office (NAO) have shown that despite spending £700 million a year on recruiting and training new teachers, the government has missed their recruitment targets for the fourth year in a row, leaving 14 out of 17 secondary subjects with unfilled places in 2015/16, compared to just 2 subjects in 2010/11, and other indicators show that teacher shortages are growing nationally.
In his letter to Nicky Morgan, the Secretary of State for Education, Imran also highlighted the NAO’s findings that the Department for Education has a weak understanding of the extent of the local teacher supply shortages and that problems are more prevalent in poorer areas, with 54% of school leaders with large proportions of disadvantaged pupils saying that attracting good teachers was a major problem, compared to 33% of leaders in other schools. In several regions, Ofsted has also found that isolated schools struggle to attract and retain enough teachers of the right calibre.
The figures for teacher recruitment in Bradford reflect this national shortage as a Bradford Council survey found that 58% of primary schools and 63% of secondary schools in the District face recruitment issues, with a specific subject specialism shortage within the secondary sector in Science, Maths and English. Inner city areas of the District are also facing greater shortages than those in outer areas.
Imran has therefore called on the Department for Education to look again at his proposals for a Bradford Challenge and listen to the Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw who recently called for the Government to expand the London Challenge programme to the North of England, which would build upon its success in recruiting and retaining teachers through improving their conditions and would attract the high-quality teachers to Bradford and the North that form the vanguard of improvements in educational attainment.
Further exacerbating the effects of the national teacher shortage in Bradford and on the District’s education is the Department for Education’s reliance on the school system to resolve problems, as they do not use their teacher supply model to estimate how many teachers are required locally or regionally, and Imran has urged the government to speed up its roll out of a National Teaching Service that will send 1,500 elite teachers into under-performing schools and could work closely with the Bradford Challenge.
Speaking on new teacher training, Imran said:
“Whilst the government has spent millions on new teachers along with creating multiple training routes that have led to confusion amongst potential applicants, they are not doing what is necessary to recruit urgently needed new teachers, and due to their substantial numbers of disadvantaged pupils, schools in Bradford are seriously hindered in coping with this national problem compared to their more affluent counterparts in other areas of the country.
“Quite simply, education in Bradford, which lies at the bottom of the league tables, cannot improve without enough teachers, and so the government should listen to the calls of Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Head of Ofsted, to expand the London Challenge programme which had a great positive effect on increasing teacher recruitment and retention rates, to Bradford and the North.
“The recent blows that Bradford has suffered with potential library closures due to reduced government funding, the transfer of the National Media Museum’s photography collection, and the impending closure of HMRC’s Bradford offices have also negatively affected the city’s attractiveness, leading new teachers that have qualified to ignore Bradford.
“Although Bradford Council have recognised the scale of the challenge that the District faces in terms of teacher recruitment and retention by investing £600,000 to help recruit and retain teachers, and I am pleased that they have done so, the government need to match this commitment to deliver real results and the improvements in education in Bradford that are needed for the creation of the Northern Powerhouse, and this is the argument that I will be making to the Education Secretary.”